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Wednesday, January 21, 1998 Published at 16:17 GMT

Sport: Football

Drugs ban lengthened

Former Charlton defender Jamie Stuart, who failed a random drugs test in November, has had his suspension extended for a further three months by a Football Association disciplinary hearing.

5 Live's Katherine Robinson tells Sybil Ruscoe about the hearing (2-46)
Stuart will undergo counselling and rehabilitation during that period, and will then reappear before a three-man FA disciplinary panel, who will assess his progress.

A one-time England Under-21 international, Stuart tested positive for cocaine and marijuana when the FA's doping control unit visited Charlton's training ground on November 17.

He was charged with misconduct by the FA.

The 21-year-old was at first suspended and then released by the First Division club after becoming the fourth Charlton player to fail a drugs test in the past three years.

Cocaine 'in cigarette'

Stuart had claimed that the cocaine was contained in a cigarette without his knowledge, and that he had smoked it on a Thursday night, four days before the random drugs test.

But Professor David Cowan, Director of the Drug Control Centre at King's College, Chelsea, said the cocaine test results made it highly unlikely the drug had been taken that way, or at that time.

FA spokesman Steve Double said: "Stuart believed the cigarette must have been laced with cocaine without his knowledge. But if it had been taken on the Thursday night the cocaine dose consistent with his (Cowan's) findings could have been fatal."

Brendon Batson, of the Professional Footballers' Association, criticised what he called Charlton's "premature" sacking of Stuart.

"I'm very disappointed with that," said Batson, who attended the hearing when the panel took into account an undisclosed "traumatic family crisis" that took place at the time of the incident.

Club acted 'prematurely'

"We had spoken at length with the club. I think they've acted very prematurely bearing in mind what's gone on today.

"We advised that they should hold fire until such time as this hearing had been completed and I would hope that they may reconsider their position and give him as much support as possible.

"Everybody makes mistakes and we're talking about young men. We appreciate that there is a drugs problem out there and it would be naive of us to think it doesn't affect young men."

The only other player to be sacked by his club for a drugs offence was Leyton Orient defender Roger Stanislaus but he was backed until the outcome of his hearing.

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